Maybe you have never been asked that question before – so I am asking you now! Think about it for a few moments. It might surprise you what comes to mind.
As I get older I can’t help looking back and reflecting on what has been. If I knew years ago what I know now would I have taken a different road? I am not sure, to be honest. What I have done has been good, rewarding and very satisfying but I wonder if there might have been something else where my life would have made an equal or better contribution to those around me?
I know when I was 15 years old I wanted to go to the Royal College of Music in London and become an Orchestral Conductor. I now think, “How absurd!” My total musical ability at that time was an ability to sing and play the recorder!! (Don’t laugh too hard!)
Naturally that unfulfilled desire does not bring any regrets but other aspects of my life do. Things that were thoughtlessly said, things done which were unwise, things left undone which should and could have been carried out.
I remember when we moved to Canada in 1964 there was someone to whom I knew I should go and say goodbye. In the busyness of the days prior to leaving I did not go. We returned for a visit two years later and the gentleman was dead. It might seem a small thing but I have remembered it to this day because it was so impressed upon me to visit him and I didn’t.
If we are honest, I am sure we all have regrets which come to mind occasionally, some small and insignificant while others loom large in our thinking. But what do we do with them? Unfortunately we cannot turn back the clock. We cannot always right the wrongs, bring back the spoken word or offer help where it is no longer needed.
Rightly or wrongly my solution is that we should acknowledge them, recognize the impossibility of changing the situation and consciously put them aside. If it is still possible to right a wrong then we should do so and get rid of one regret. The rest we have to accept that we made choices which perhaps were wrong. We made decisions which were mistakes. We have to admit that we were never perfect nor ever will be.
The positive aspect of all this is that it teaches us to value what we have, the time we have left and maybe give us the determination not to cause ourselves any more regrets!